Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mackie Thump TH-12A Powered Speaker Review


I did sound for a fairly loud outdoor punk show last weekend and had the chance to wring out a pair of Mackie Thump TH-12A powered loudspeakers, and they did very well. In this setting I used them as floor monitors with a pair of QSC K12s as the house speakers.

As I said, the Thump TH-12A is a powered speaker that is rated at 400 watts, which is typical amplifier manufacturer deception, as that is peak watts. In reality it is 200 watts bi-amped with 50 watts going to the tweeter and 150 watts going to the driver (at 8 ohms). The crossover is set at 3kHz, in case you care. This is class A/B amplification for the tweeter and class D amplification for the woofer so it is very efficient. Despite their fudging of the numbers, I have to say “my god they are plenty loud.” They cover a pretty good audible range that is a little light on the low end, from 57Hz to 20kHz, and a frequency response of 70 Hz to 18.5 kHz.

Oh yeah, and they are made out of plastic so they are very light (25 ½ pounds each), and Mackie was able to mold in nice handles, as well as recesses on each side so they can be set on their sides as floor monitors. They are not terribly huge, coming in at 24” tall by 15”wide by 13” deep. There are also pole sockets in the bases of the speakers (no lock screws, though, so they may spin).

These speakers have a fairly simple control panel on the back. Included is a standard power cord socket (3-pin IEC 250), an XLR input and output, a power switch, a 3-band EQ, an EQ bypass switch and a level knob. As you can tell by the controls, these speakers can be used as standalone pieces if you want to run only a microphone without a mixing board.

When the rubber met the road the Thumps worked very well. I used them on their sides as floor monitors, with the EQ switch off and the level knob on each set to about 2:00 on the dial. I put vocals and the kick drum through them and they were able to keep up with the guitar and bass rigs that were 10 feet away. I even stepped up front to sing one song and had no problem hearing myself as I screeched out my best Ozzy imitation. The sound reproduction seemed good, although it was a noisy stage so I was happy just to survive. Come to think of it, the kick drum would have sounded better with a bigger driver, but there are always trade-offs in life…

The speakers did not get unduly hot even though it was 100 degrees and very humid. And the efficiency of their amplifiers (and the QSCs amps, too) meant that I could run a single length of extension cord 200 feet and still have enough power left over on a power strip to run the tube bass and guitar amps without tripping any circuit breakers. Amazing!

I do have some beefs with the Thump speakers, and most of them probably have to do with the price point they were trying to meet. The level knobs are not very linear, and when turning them up there are huge jumps in volume. I would love to see a ¼-inch input, or even a combination ¼-inch XLR jack. I had to buy new cables as my mixer has ¼-inch monitor outs, and many mixing boards have not gone to XLR monitor outs. RCA inputs would be nice so an iPod or other components can be hooked up directly to the speakers. And lastly, the knobs on the back are sticking out with no protection and will be super easy for me to break when moving them from gig to gig. QSC has spoiled me with features like these, but then again they are three times the price. And that is where things get real, isn’t it?

The list price is $389, but everybody and their brother sells the Mackie Thump TH-12A speakers for $299 each, and if you are lucky you can pick them up as B-stock for $220 each. That is a lot of speaker for short money, so keep them in mind if you are looking for budget powered loudspeakers or monitors.



  1. Good, fair review. Thanks. After researching monitors for my purposes on the net for the past few week, I ordered one from GC. My purpose is as a rehearsal recording playback monitor for woodwind ensembles. It needed to be portable, less than $300 and capable of reasonable balanced sound. I think the spec on this is -3db from 65 to 18k hz. In the store today I compared it to Behringer, Alto, and Harbinger units as well as several studio monitors such as the Tannoy, which got great reviews ans thought I would love. But I didn't because it had weak line level inputs. The devices that I will use to drive any powered speaker did not drive the studio monitors I tested well at all - the volume level couldn't reach 1/3 of most $100+ PA-style boxes.

    What sold me on the Mackie was the equalizer. In my price range the only one that had any equalizer was the Harbinger. Its lowest level of 5 fixed frequencies was centered at 250hz which, when increased, only increased a standing-wave like booominess. I love the parametric mid frequency adjustment on the Mackie where the center can adjust from 80 to 8,000 hz. And the flat (equalizer off) sound was superior to the other three units I tested within the inputs I had on hand.

    So, for my purposes, which requires an accurate frequency response more than really strong bass, this should work well.

  2. do you know of a place I could buy a replacement amp for these TH 12A powered speakers

  3. Hi there, Anonymous!

    Both of mine crapped out within a year, and the cost of replacing the amplifiers was more than they were worth. I would say scrap them and buy better speakers -- Yamaha, JBL or QSC. I learned my lesson with Mackie and they will not be getting any more of my business.